How I lost and found my identity

exposed and vulnerable
My protection was stripped away. I was exposed and vulnerable.

I was betrayed and shamed. When my marriage ended suddenly a few years ago I was confused. It did not end well.  I was blindsided. The scandal was in the newspapers. My heart was broken. I did not want to face the neighbors, my friends. I felt I was no longer the person I had always claimed to be.

I grieved.  I knew we did not have a good marriage but I was in denial. I wanted things to go on as before. This was not how my story was supposed to end. There was an empty space in my life. Like so many of us, I hate change. It is easier to just carry on doing what we always did even when it is not the best thing for us. To be honest, I was scared. I had lost my identity. I did not like who I was nor did I like where I was in life. All I knew was that staying where I was mentally was wrong and harmful.

After wallowing in self pity for a few months I realized that I had to make a choice. As the saying goes..

“The difficulties of life are intended to make us better, not bitter.”

If I wanted to be better.. I had to face the facts…

  • I was divorced……. ……….so I was no longer identified as a wife
  • I had just retired………….. so I was no longer identified by my job
  • my children were grown… so I wasn’t mom.. (not in the day to day mothering sense)

I needed to find my identity… 

I  needed to take a long hard look at myself. I had to ask myself some hard questions.

Who am I?         Who is this Magpie?

I opened a brand new journal and I stared at the page not really knowing where to begin. After a few tears and false starts, I began to write down some questions. I wanted to see in black and white, how I saw myself.

  1. What are my character strengths?
  2. What are my character weaknesses?
  3. What do I like about myself?
  4. What do I dislike about myself?
  5. What do I need to change?
  6. Who are the most important people in my life?
  7. What are my dreams?
  8. What motivates me?
  9. What is holding me back?
  10. Where do I see myself in 5 years?
  11. What resentments am I holding on to?
  12. Who do I need to forgive so I can move forward?

The questions were not hard to formulate. Answering the questions honestly was not easy. I knew I needed to be truly honest with myself, even though it hurt. I was desperate, I had to find my true self underneath the rubble of the divorce.

After my initial round of answering the questions, after more tears and much reflection, I looked again at my answers. I edited and revised, I made lists and slowly a plan developed. I came to the conclusion I was not strong enough to do it all alone. I realized it was OK to seek help.

My plan included something I thought I would never do. Something that turned out to be my best decision. I sought professional help. I made an appointment with a Psychologist. With his help, I was able to delve deep and let go of a lot of resentments and a lot of anger that was holding me back from being the best person I could be. With his help, I was set free from my past and was able to step into my new future. With his help I have a bright, new and meaningful identity.

If you are struggling to find yourself, if you are trying to  figure out who you are and who you want to be, I suggest that you ask yourself some hard questions. Be honest.

If you feel confident and know your identity, ask yourself if there is room for improvement.  We can all work on improving in some area. What are your answers to these questions?